As we reacquaint ourselves with touch and closeness after months of social distancing, use Coco Yuan’s work My Hand on Yours to ease into the process.
My Hand on Yours is a browser-based work where you can place Yuan’s virtual hand on top of yours. Her hand can hold your hand or rest gently on it, reminiscent of interactions we took for granted pre-COVID.
The user uploads a picture and can then position the overlaid virtual hand in various ways, such as bending the knuckles, extending a pinky, clenching a fist.
The project stems from a time before social distancing, when Yuan, who is based in Melbourne, noticed that a lack of well-planned public space in Melbourne resulted in people claiming streets, cars, and parking lots as social spaces. By approaching strangers in these spaces, asking if she could join them and subtly touching their hands, Yuan became part of their sacred personal sphere.
My Hand on Yours is an effort to transfer this same intimacy of proximity and touch to the digital realm. The pictures created using My Hand on Yours can be uploaded to a gallery on the project website. They are often humorous: one user manipulates Yuan’s hand to join them in petting a peculiar dog, another has the hand doing dishes with them.
The project description is not apocalyptic nor pessimistic about the possibilities of holding hands IRL once again. Yet seeing the artificial hand in these familiar settings contributed by users can feel strangely sad and touching. The gentle touch of the digital hand is little substitute for the warmth of a real hand, but it also makes one think about how nice it would be to always have a hand available to hold through lonely or isolating times.
Coco Yuan is a graphic designer from Melbourne, Australia.
For Show and Tell, Special Special invites a selection of artists to produce or share work that can be viewed in the browser, downloaded, or streamed. The work is presented as a series of digital exhibitions periodically delivered to email inboxes.